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6/John Stuart Mill insufficiently made out, than algebra; which derives none of its cer- tainty from what are commonly taught to learners as its elements, since. Utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill. 1: General remarks. Chapter 1: General Remarks. Little progress has been made towards deciding the contro- versy concerning. Cambridge Core - Philosophy Texts - Utilitarianism - by John Stuart Mill. PDF; Export citation. Contents. pp vii-viii CHAPTER II - WHAT UTILITARIANISM IS.

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Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · 18 by John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. PDF | This paper considers the writings of John Stuart Mill in political philosophy and political economy as a prototype for ideals of a 'sustainable development'. Bentham, one of the earliest founders of Utilitarianism was an English philosopher and political radical. Although he never practiced law.

Just look at the latest Davos' reports! Mill provided us with a large list of valuable endeavours, that are obtainable through the cultivation of the mind: objects of nature, the achievements of art, the imaginations of poetry, the incidents of history, human events in the past and present as well as their prospects in the future' are some mentions worth highlighting. While Mill admits that self-sacrifice is not necessarily the way of utilitarians unless it is done to increase the happiness of others he accepts the Christian golden rule as the most acceptable form of utilitarianism.

He goes on to discuss the criticisms the Utilitarian theory received and affirms that for utilitarians virtue is possibly an end as some see virtue as happiness. Here he provided a survey of many ideas current at the time, about the distinction of justice and other fields of the moral utilitarian thesis.

He goes on to consider punishment, wages, taxation in turn. I am especially impressed with his discussion in redistributive justice. Very contemporary indeed for an 18th Century work. In all, this is a very thorough study of the utilitarian moral thesis and John Stuart Mill deserves the acclaim he has attained. Must be considered by anyone reading in this philosophical area.

Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill

Here it sometimes becomes difficult to disentangle egoistic versus utilitarian lines of thought in Shaftesbury. If one should help others because that's the right thing to do — and, fortunately, it also ends up promoting one's own interests, then that's more like utilitarianism, since the promotion of self-interest is a welcome effect but not what, all by itself, justifies one's character or actions. Further, to be virtuous a person must have certain psychological capacities — they must be able to reflect on character, for example, and represent to themselves the qualities in others that are either approved or disapproved of.

Animals also lack the capacity for moral discrimination and would therefore seem to lack the moral sense. This raises some interesting questions. It would seem that the moral sense is a perception that something is the case. So it isn't merely a discriminatory sense that allows us to sort perceptions. It also has a propositional aspect, so that animals, which are not lacking in other senses are lacking in this one. The virtuous person is one whose affections, motives, dispositions are of the right sort, not one whose behavior is simply of the right sort and who is able to reflect on goodness, and her own goodness [see Gill].

Similarly, the vicious person is one who exemplifies the wrong sorts of mental states, affections, and so forth. Shaftesbury approached moral evaluation via the virtues and vices. His utilitarian leanings are distinct from his moral sense approach, and his overall sentimentalism. However, this approach highlights the move away from egoistic views of human nature — a trend picked up by Hutcheson and Hume, and later adopted by Mill in criticism of Bentham's version of utilitarianism.

For writers like Shaftesbury and Hutcheson the main contrast was with egoism rather than rationalism. Like Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson was very much interested in virtue evaluation.

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He also adopted the moral sense approach. However, in his writings we also see an emphasis on action choice and the importance of moral deliberation to action choice. Hutcheson, in An Inquiry Concerning Moral Good and Evil, fairly explicitly spelled out a utilitarian principle of action choice.

Joachim Hruschka notes, however, that it was Leibniz who first spelled out a utilitarian decision procedure.

In comparing the moral qualities of actions…we are led by our moral sense of virtue to judge thus; that in equal degrees of happiness, expected to proceed from the action, the virtue is in proportion to the number of persons to whom the happiness shall extend and here the dignity, or moral importance of persons, may compensate numbers ; and, in equal numbers, the virtue is the quantity of the happiness, or natural good; or that the virtue is in a compound ratio of the quantity of good, and number of enjoyers….

R, —4 Scarre notes that some hold the moral sense approach incompatible with this emphasis on the use of reason to determine what we ought to do; there is an opposition between just apprehending what's morally significant and a model in which we need to reason to figure out what morality demands of us. But Scarre notes these are not actually incompatible: The picture which emerges from Hutcheson's discussion is of a division of labor, in which the moral sense causes us to look with favor on actions which benefit others and disfavor those which harm them, while consequentialist reasoning determines a more precise ranking order of practical options in given situations.

Scarre, 53—54 Scarre then uses the example of telling a lie to illustrate: lying is harmful to the person to whom one lies, and so this is viewed with disfavor, in general. However, in a specific case, if a lie is necessary to achieve some notable good, consequentialist reasoning will lead us to favor the lying.

But this example seems to put all the emphasis on a consideration of consequences in moral approval and disapproval. Stephen Darwall notes , ff. It is the motives rather than the consequences that are the objects of approval and disapproval. But inasmuch as the morally good person cares about what happens to others, and of course she will, she will rank order acts in terms of their effects on others, and reason is used in calculating effects.

So there is no incompatibility at all. Hutcheson was committed to maximization, it seems. Hume was heavily influenced by Hutcheson, who was one of his teachers. His system also incorporates insights made by Shaftesbury, though he certainly lacks Shaftesbury's confidence that virtue is its own reward. In terms of his place in the history of utilitarianism we should note two distinct effects his system had.

Firstly, his account of the social utility of the artificial virtues influenced Bentham's thought on utility. Secondly, his account of the role sentiment played in moral judgment and commitment to moral norms influenced Mill's thoughts about the internal sanctions of morality.


Bentham, in contrast to Mill, represented the egoistic branch — his theory of human nature reflected Hobbesian psychological egoism. If anything could be identified as the fundamental motivation behind the development of Classical Utilitarianism it would be the desire to see useless, corrupt laws and social practices changed. Accomplishing this goal required a normative ethical theory employed as a critical tool. What is the truth about what makes an action or a policy a morally good one, or morally right?

But developing the theory itself was also influenced by strong views about what was wrong in their society. The conviction that, for example, some laws are bad resulted in analysis of why they were bad. And, for Jeremy Bentham, what made them bad was their lack of utility, their tendency to lead to unhappiness and misery without any compensating happiness.

If a law or an action doesn't do any good, then it isn't any good. He famously held that humans were ruled by two sovereign masters — pleasure and pain. Yet he also promulgated the principle of utility as the standard of right action on the part of governments and individuals.

Actions are approved when they are such as to promote happiness, or pleasure, and disapproved of when they have a tendency to cause unhappiness, or pain PML. Combine this criterion of rightness with a view that we should be actively trying to promote overall happiness, and one has a serious incompatibility with psychological egoism. Thus, his apparent endorsement of Hobbesian psychological egoism created problems in understanding his moral theory since psychological egoism rules out acting to promote the overall well-being when that it is incompatible with one's own.

For the psychological egoist, that is not even a possibility. This generates a serious tension in Bentham's thought, one that was drawn to his attention. He sometimes seemed to think that he could reconcile the two commitments empirically, that is, by noting that when people act to promote the good they are helping themselves, too.

But this claim only serves to muddy the waters, since the standard understanding of psychological egoism — and Bentham's own statement of his view — identifies motives of action which are self-interested. Yet this seems, again, in conflict with his own specification of the method for making moral decisions which is not to focus on self-interest — indeed, the addition of extent as a parameter along which to measure pleasure produced distinguishes this approach from ethical egoism.

Aware of the difficulty, in later years he seemed to pull back from a full-fledged commitment to psychological egoism, admitting that people do sometimes act benevolently — with the overall good of humanity in mind. Bentham also benefited from Hume's work, though in many ways their approaches to moral philosophy were completely different.

Hume rejected the egoistic view of human nature. Hume also focused on character evaluation in his system. Actions are significant as evidence of character, but only have this derivative significance.

In moral evaluation the main concern is that of character. Yet Bentham focused on act-evaluation. There was a tendency — remarked on by J. Schneewind , for example — to move away from focus on character evaluation after Hume and towards act-evaluation. Recall that Bentham was enormously interested in social reform. Indeed, reflection on what was morally problematic about laws and policies influenced his thinking on utility as a standard.

When one legislates, however, one is legislating in support of, or against, certain actions. Character — that is, a person's true character — is known, if known at all, only by that person. If one finds the opacity of the will thesis plausible then character, while theoretically very interesting, isn't a practical focus for legislation.

Further, as Schneewind notes, there was an increasing sense that focus on character would actually be disruptive, socially, particularly if one's view was that a person who didn't agree with one on a moral issues was defective in terms of his or her character, as opposed to simply making a mistake reflected in action.

But Bentham does take from Hume the view that utility is the measure of virtue — that is, utility more broadly construed than Hume's actual usage of the term. This is because Hume made a distinction between pleasure that the perception of virtue generates in the observer, and social utility, which consisted in a trait's having tangible benefits for society, any instance of which may or may not generate pleasure in the observer.

But Bentham is not simply reformulating a Humean position — he's merely been influenced by Hume's arguments to see pleasure as a measure or standard of moral value.

So, why not move from pleasurable responses to traits to pleasure as a kind of consequence which is good, and in relation to which, actions are morally right or wrong? Bentham, in making this move, avoids a problem for Hume. On Hume's view it seems that the response — corrected, to be sure — determines the trait's quality as a virtue or vice. But on Bentham's view the action or trait is morally good, right, virtuous in view of the consequences it generates, the pleasure or utility it produces, which could be completely independent of what our responses are to the trait.

So, unless Hume endorses a kind of ideal observer test for virtue, it will be harder for him to account for how it is people make mistakes in evaluations of virtue and vice. Bentham, on the other hand, can say that people may not respond to the actions good qualities — perhaps they don't perceive the good effects.

But as long as there are these good effects which are, on balance, better than the effects of any alternative course of action, then the action is the right one.

Rhetorically, anyway, one can see why this is an important move for Bentham to be able to make. He was a social reformer. He felt that people often had responses to certain actions — of pleasure or disgust — that did not reflect anything morally significant at all. One is the physical antipathy to the offence…. The act is to the highest degree odious and disgusting, that is, not to the man who does it, for he does it only because it gives him pleasure, but to one who thinks [?

Be it so, but what is that to him? Bentham OAO, v.

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This reduces the antipathy to the act in question. This demonstrates an optimism in Bentham. This is distinct from the view that a pain or pleasure based on a false belief should be discounted. Bentham does not believe the latter. Thus Bentham's hedonism is a very straightforward hedonism.

The one intrinsic good is pleasure, the bad is pain. We are to promote pleasure and act to reduce pain. When called upon to make a moral decision one measures an action's value with respect to pleasure and pain according to the following: intensity how strong the pleasure or pain is , duration how long it lasts , certainty how likely the pleasure or pain is to be the result of the action , proximity how close the sensation will be to performance of the action , fecundity how likely it is to lead to further pleasures or pains , purity how much intermixture there is with the other sensation.

One also considers extent — the number of people affected by the action. Keeping track of all of these parameters can be complicated and time consuming. Bentham does not recommend that they figure into every act of moral deliberation because of the efficiency costs which need to be considered.

Experience can guide us. We know that the pleasure of kicking someone is generally outweighed by the pain inflicted on that person, so such calculations when confronted with a temptation to kick someone are unnecessary. It is reasonable to judge it wrong on the basis of past experience or consensus. Bentham's view was surprising to many at the time at least in part because he viewed the moral quality of an action to be determined instrumentally.

It isn't so much that there is a particular kind of action that is intrinsically wrong; actions that are wrong are wrong simply in virtue of their effects, thus, instrumentally wrong.

This cut against the view that there are some actions that by their very nature are just wrong, regardless of their effects. Some may be wrong because they violate liberty, or autonomy. Again, Bentham would view liberty and autonomy as good — but good instrumentally, not intrinsically. Thus, any action deemed wrong due to a violation of autonomy is derivatively wrong on instrumental grounds as well. This is interesting in moral philosophy — as it is far removed from the Kantian approach to moral evaluation as well as from natural law approaches.

It is also interesting in terms of political philosophy and social policy. On Bentham's view the law is not monolithic and immutable. Since effects of a given policy may change, the moral quality of the policy may change as well.

A law that is good at one point in time may be a bad law at some other point in time. Thus, lawmakers have to be sensitive to changing social circumstances. To be fair to Bentham's critics, of course, they are free to agree with him that this is the case in many situations, just not all — and that there is still a subset of laws that reflect the fact that some actions just are intrinsically wrong regardless of consequences.

Bentham is in the much more difficult position of arguing that effects are all there are to moral evaluation of action and policy. This left him open to a variety of criticisms. First, Bentham's Hedonism was too egalitarian. Simple-minded pleasures, sensual pleasures, were just as good, at least intrinsically, than more sophisticated and complex pleasures.

The pleasure of drinking a beer in front of the T. Second, Bentham's view that there were no qualitative differences in pleasures also left him open to the complaint that on his view human pleasures were of no more value than animal pleasures and, third, committed him to the corollary that the moral status of animals, tied to their sentience, was the same as that of humans. While harming a puppy and harming a person are both bad, however, most people had the view that harming the person was worse.

Mill sought changes to the theory that could accommodate those sorts of intuitions. To this end, Mill's hedonism was influenced by perfectionist intuitions. There are some pleasures that are more fitting than others. Intellectual pleasures are of a higher, better, sort than the ones that are merely sensual, and that we share with animals. To some this seems to mean that Mill really wasn't a hedonistic utilitarian.

His view of the good did radically depart from Bentham's view. However, like Bentham, the good still consists in pleasure, it is still a psychological state. There is certainly that similarity. Further, the basic structures of the theories are the same for more on this see Donner The rationale for all the rights he recognizes is utilitarian. He doesn't attempt a mere appeal to raw intuition.

Instead, he argues that those persons who have experienced both view the higher as better than the lower. Who would rather be a happy oyster, living an enormously long life, than a person living a normal life? Mill also argued that the principle could be proven, using another rather notorious argument: The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible is that people actually see it…. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people do actually desire it.

If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practiced, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. Moore — criticized this as fallacious. The distinctions he makes strike many as intuitively plausible ones.

Bentham, however, can accommodate many of the same intuitions within his system. This is because he notes that there are a variety of parameters along which we quantitatively measure pleasure — intensity and duration are just two of those. His complete list is the following: intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, propinquity or remoteness, fecundity, purity, and extent.

Thus, what Mill calls the intellectual pleasures will score more highly than the sensual ones along several parameters, and this could give us reason to prefer those pleasures — but it is a quantitative not a qualitative reason, on Bentham's view.

When a student decides to study for an exam rather than go to a party, for example, she is making the best decision even though she is sacrificing short term pleasure. That's because studying for the exam, Bentham could argue, scores higher in terms of the long term pleasures doing well in school lead to, as well as the fecundity of the pleasure in leading to yet other pleasures. However, Bentham will have to concede that the very happy oyster that lives a very long time could, in principle, have a better life than a normal human.

Mill's version of utilitarianism differed from Bentham's also in that he placed weight on the effectiveness of internal sanctions — emotions like guilt and remorse which serve to regulate our actions. This is an off-shoot of the different view of human nature adopted by Mill. We are the sorts of beings that have social feelings, feelings for others, not just ourselves.The intuitionists must therefore mobilize a first principle that is independent of experience and that secures the unity and consistency of our theory of justice.

In all, this is a very thorough study of the utilitarian moral thesis and John Stuart Mill deserves the acclaim he has attained.

Under this assumption, the critics argue, there can be no evaluative basis for the distinction between higher and lower pleasures. If one compared an empty universe with a universe of sadists, the empty universe would strike one as better.

There are many persons to kill whom would be to remove men who are a cause of no good to any human being, of cruel physical and moral suffering to several, and whose whole influence tends to increase the mass of unhappiness and vice. Recall that Bentham was enormously interested in social reform.

The interplay of social feelings and moral education explains, in turn, why we are not only upset by injustices when we personally suffer, but also when the elemental rights of others are harmed.

One case that worried Mill deeply was the role of women in Victorian Britain. This goal explains the composition of the work. Like external forms of punishment, internal sanctions are instrumentally very important to appropriate action.

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